Mark Bryan is no Darius Rucker, which is perfectly fine. Unlike his Hootie & the Blowfish bandmate, Bryan’s singing voice is less resonant, and yet it works for the guy. There’s an easygoing quality that is more “let’s jam in my garage” than “hey, I’m a rock star.”
On End Of The Front, Bryan’s second solo effort, the songwriter keeps things South Carolina simple, producing and recording the whole thing in his home studio just north of Charleston. Bryan is a huge fan of Americana, and the influences of that genre can be felt in his work, although End Of The Front is not really an Americana album.
The highlight is “Fork In The Road”, on which Bryan duets with fellow South Carolinian Danielle Howle. The upbeat guitar riff and catchy chorus could easily have made that track a Hootie hit. “Hey Loretta” features the talents of Hank Futch and Gary Greene, who often play out with Bryan under the name Occasional Milkshake. “Living Through” sports an intricate melody featuring Bryan on banjo.
Fred LeBlanc from Cowboy Mouth produces and performs on three tracks; Bryan also calls in favors from Sam Bush and Bela Fleck on other songs. It’s unintrusive music, yet End Of The Front is anything but throwaway.